Ratio: Variations on the Theme of Pancakes III

This entry is part of a series, Ratio»

Third in the Ratio: Pancakes series. I’m participating in the Ratio Challenges this year, hosted by Seattlejo of Fat and Crafty, and experimenting with ratios from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking.

No picture of this one and why is that? Because I managed to have so many problems putting this together, it’s not even funny. It came out tasty in the end but quite frankly, I need to test my recipe revision to find out if it’s really fixed.

Yesterday was my vārdadiena or name-day. (A vārdadiena is somewhat similar to a birthday, except that smaller in scale and you celebrate based on your name’s position on the Latvian calendar. Let’s just say, it’s an excuse for a party or at least getting your favorite meal out of it.) I decided for dessert, I’d go ahead and make these up, not realizing that I hadn’t finished writing the recipe out by its ratio.

Let’s review the pancake batter ratio: It calls for 2 parts flour : 2 parts liquid : 1/2 part fat : 1 part egg + leavening + sweetener. Simple, right?

I left out the fat and forgot to increase my liquid because I played around with the sugar. So, my initial recipe looked something like this: 2 parts flour / cocoa / nuts : 2 parts sweetened, condensed milk : 0 parts fat : 1 part egg + leavening.

I had decided I would chop the nuts finely into a pseudo-flour and use that as part of the flour. Last night, I discovered that my Cuisinart mini-chopper would not effectively chop nuts. Instead, I got some walnut/pecan butter, some walnut dust and a bunch of chunks and whole nuts. Great. So, I dumped it in the bowl with the cocoa powder and pastry flour. Didn’t really think about the ratio and the fact that I had just lost 1 1/2 parts of flour to a bad chopper without replacing it.

But wait, it gets worse. Not only had I forgotten to add in the fat, but the correct ratio calls for baking powder. I used baking soda. They’re both leavening agents, but baking powder is double-acting. Baking soda is single-acting, which means you only get one “rise” out of it and it begins as soon as it activated. Baking powder can sit around a while. Luckily, I had mixed it and immediately began cooking it, but I’m not quite sure how much of a problem this is.

With everything else going wrong, I would up adding a lot of milk just to get the batter to thin out properly. When my husband started cooking them, they spread very far and very fast — and weren’t easy to flip. This is because of the missing part of flour and fat. We wound up quickly stirring in flour to get them to a cookable state.

In the end, they came out pretty well. Even the first one that spread like crazy and was a bitch to flip tasted great. I hit the cocoa measurement dead-on. They were extremely delicious and I only wished I’d had some fresh strawberries and whipped cream to top them.

Here’s the revised recipe, the way I should have cooked them. I’ll be making these again soon and will edit this post if there are any changes that need to be made, but if you try them, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Just mind the ratio, okay?

Chocolate Pancakes [printable recipe]

Definitely not a breakfast unless you’re spoiling someone. Based around the lovely ganache, I combined sweet with the liquid in the form of sweetened condensed milk.

  • 2 ounces whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour
  • 1/2 ounce dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 ounce all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 ounce butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • milk, to thin as needed
  • pinch of salt
  • chocolate chips and/or walnut pieces, for sprinkling (optional)

Sift together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in a small bowl. Combine wet with dry, beat together into a pancake batter, using the milk as needed to thin it out to your desired consistency.

Over moderate heat in a lightly greased skillet, pour batter in 1/2 cup portions, sprinkle with chocolate chips and/or walnut pieces, and cook until the edges set. Since the batter is so dark, it can be really difficult to tell when they’re ready to be flipped, but each pancake shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

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2 Responses to Ratio: Variations on the Theme of Pancakes III

  1. Wendy says:

    One thing to keep in mind about baking soda is that it’s an alkalai — it gets activated as a leavener in the presence of an acid. (Just think about those baking-soda-and-vinegar volcanoes from grade school science projects.) I *think* cocoa powder may be acidic enough to activate baking soda (or, at least, if it’s not Dutch-process), but I’m not positive. Molasses is, which is why cookie recipes with a large amount of brown sugar tend to use baking soda for leavening.

    • Cori Rozentāle says:

      Oh! I didn’t know that, that’s really interesting. I did use Dutch-processed cocoa, but on the other hand, I got plenty of bubbles and reasonably floofy pancakes. So there must have been enough acid in the ingredients to set it off.

      I definitely need to remember that about the brown sugar + baking soda. I always wondered why that worked the way it did..thanks!

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